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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 18, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: This sensor, using nanoscale technology, will monitor a patient's recovery, but can also be controllable remotely.

Headline: Nanotechnology to monitor hip implant healing
News source: scenta

A nanoscale microsensor may soon improve the lives of people recovering from hip replacement surgery.

The University of Alberta (UoA) invention is a very small self-powered wireless microsensor that monitors the bone healing progress after surgery. The sensor is so tiny it could fit onto the tip of a biro [pen].

"This microsensor not only reduces post-operation recovery time, it will also help reduce the wait time for patients needing artificial joint implants," said Dr Walied Moussa, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UoA.

"The healing process sees the bone growing and attaching itself to the pores on the surface of an implant, creating a very strong hold onto the joint — a process known as osseointegration."

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: "Lab on a chip" is a term that has been applied to nanoscale solutions to quick diagnostics in the field. This is one step closer to that reality.

Headline: Portable 'lab on a chip' could speed blood tests
News source: Physorg.com

Testing soldiers to see if they have been exposed to biological or chemical weapons could soon be much faster and easier, thanks to MIT researchers who are helping to develop a tiny diagnostic device that could be carried into battle.

By tweaking the design of a tiny pump, researchers affiliated with MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies have taken a major step towards making an existing miniature "lab on a chip" fully portable, so the tiny device can perform hundreds of chemical experiments in any setting.

"In the same way that miniaturization led to a revolution in computing, the idea is that miniature laboratories of fluid being pumped from one channel to another, with reactions going on here and there, can revolutionize biology and chemistry," says Martin Bazant, associate professor of applied mathematics and leader of the research team.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: Funding for renewable energy solutions using nanotechnology ramps up.

Headline: UAlbany nano college nets $2 million for renewable energy research
News source: SmallTimes

The New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) has awarded a grant of nearly $2 million to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany to help spur development of an Energy Test Farm that will enable innovative research on renewable energy technologies and generate significant economic impact.

The $1,922,000 award, made as part of NYSTAR's Center for Advanced Technology Development Program, will support the efforts of CNSE's Center for Advanced Technology in Nanomaterials and Nanoelectronics. The funding will be used to expand the capabilities of the CATN2 by creating an Energy Test Farm to evaluate zero energy concepts, based on the development and testing of nanomaterials and nanoelectronics for clean energy technologies, such as fuel cells, solar photovoltaic cells, ultracapacitors and power electronics.

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: This application can be applied to energy distribution as well as nanoelectronics.

Headline: New theory explains enhanced superconductivity in nanowires
News source: EurekAlert

Superconducting wires are used in magnetic resonance imaging machines, high-speed magnetic-levitation trains, and in sensitive devices that detect variations in the magnetic field of a brain. Eventually, ultra-narrow superconducting wires might be used in power lines designed to carry electrical energy long distances with little loss.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign not only have discovered an unusual phenomenon in which ultra-narrow wires show enhanced superconductivity when exposed to strong magnetic fields, they also have developed a theory to explain it.

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

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Become a member of Foresight

If you are interested in advancing beneficial nanotechnology, please consider becoming a member of Foresight. With your support, Foresight will continue to be the leading public interest voice for nanotechnology that will focus on using this powerful technology to improve the health and well being of people and the planet.

We have membership levels designed for inclusion of all who are interested in our nanotechnology future whether you are a student, individual or corporation.

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Foresight Partners


NanoVIP has updated its nanotechnology business portal. Browsed by thousands of visitors daily, NanoVIP.com has evolved from a static directory of nanotechnology businesses to an organic multi-database, nano business directory where anyone can easily add content.

If you are involved in nanotechnology, you can certainly benefit from the NanoVIP site by submitting for a free listing that can include information about your company, products, event, press releases, white papers, classified ads, and even blogs.

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Engineers Devise New Method of Chemical Vapor Deposition for Smaller Nanostructures

News source: Physorg.com

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have invented an ingenious new method for depositing tiny amounts of materials on surfaces. The researchers say that the technique, known as plasmon-assisted chemical vapor deposition, will add a powerful new tool to the existing battery of techniques used to construct microdevices.

In the current issue of the journal Nano Letters, research scientist David Boyd and his colleagues at Caltech, Stanford University, and New York University report that the new vapor deposition process can be used with a variety of materials by focusing a low-powered laser beam onto a substrate coated with gold nanoparticles. The laser wavelength is chosen to match a natural resonance in the gold particles, and those particles in the small spot illuminated by the laser (about one micron in diameter, or less than a hundredth the diameter of a human hair) absorb energy from the laser and quickly heat up, rising in temperature several hundred degrees.

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Nanotech News

Headline: ICON issues review of nanotechnology practices - Broad-based council collates information on occupational safeguards

News source: EurekAlert

The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) issued a comprehensive review of existing efforts to develop "best practices" for handling nanomaterials in the workplace.

The work was performed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) as part of a two-phase project to catalogue how industry is managing the potential occupational safety risks posed by nanomaterials. ICON, which paid for both phases of the project, is a coalition of academic, industrial, governmental and civil society organizations including Foresight Nanotech Institute. ICON is administered by Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN).

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Nanotech Events

Abstract Deadline October 27

2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit
December 4-6, 2006
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Human morbidity and mortality are largely dependent on the ever-elusive world of drug discovery and development. Great scientific and clinical advances, both within chemical and biological driven areas, have been achieved in the past few years. Registrants of the 2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit will have unlimited access to 11 different conferences including Nanobiotechnology in Drug Discovery.

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SEMI NanoForums

SEMI NanoForum
October 31 - November 2, 2006
San Jose, California

Another nanotechnology conference? You bet! Bringing new products to market requires working together like never before. That's why SEMI NanoForum 2006 unites executives from the semiconductor manufacturing and nanotech communities to share expertise and speed commercialization of nano-enabled products across industries.

Session topics include:

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Editor's Pick

Dear readers – When reviewing news for this digest, I often read about something that I think is cool, but it doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest. This section highlights a nanotech advance, event or idea that I think is especially cool.

Dr. Mauro Ferrari, who serves on steering committee for Foresight's International Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, has established a company to fight cancer. As you'll see, he's quite a visionary.

— Judy

Headline: Renowned Researcher Dr. Mauro Ferrari Launches New Company to Battle Cancer

News source: Genetic Engineering News

"According to Dr. Ferrari, "We are at a very important junction in time in humankind's battle against cancer. The time is near that cancer will no longer be a sentence of death or suffering for anyone. We are all committed to doing all that is in our power to make this vision come true."

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Policy - Discussion on Nanodot

Headline: Think twice before labeling nanotechnology products
News source: Nanodot

The ETC Group, recently mentioned here for its PR skills, has announced a contest to design a Nano-Hazard symbol for nanotechnology:

"Standard setting bodies around the world are now scrambling to agree on nomenclature that can describe nanoparticles and nanomaterials. A common, internationally-recognized symbol warning of the presence of engineered nanomaterials is equally overdue."

So apparently they want this symbol on all products using engineered nanomaterials, an extraordinarily broad category. There are at least two ways in which this is a bad idea.

First, many such nanotech products will turn out not to be hazards at all. A similar case exists here in California: state law requires the posting of a warning sign about chemical hazards. This sign has now been posted in so many places (all grocery stores, increasing numbers of apartment buildings) that consumers disregard it entirely. It's become meaningless. This kind of overuse reduces the communication value of hazard signs in general.

Second, we don't need another symbol. As ETC points out on their page, there is already a well-established symbol for toxic hazards. Consumers shouldn't have to learn a new symbol: either something is toxic or it's not.

We need to take a precautionary approach to the strong version of the precautionary principle itself. It could do more harm than good.

— Christine Peterson

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Molecular machines - Discussion on Nanodot

Headline: Must-see video on nature's nanotechnology
News source: Nanodot

From scientific animation company XVIVO in collaboration with Harvard comes an 8-minute video showing nature's nanotechnology: molecular machinery of the cell, in action:

...Nuclei, proteins and lipids move with bug-like authority, slithering, gliding and twisting through 3D space. "All of those things that you see in the animation are going on in every one of your cells in your body all the time," says XVIVO lead animator John Liebler...

— Christine Peterson

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Contact Foresight

The Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest is emailed every week to 15,000 individuals in more than 125 countries. Foresight Nanotech Institute is a member-supported organization. We offer membership levels appropriate to meet the needs and interests of individuals and companies.

Judy Conner, Director of Communications at Foresight Nanotech Institute, is the editor of the Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest. If you would like to submit a news item or contact her with comments about the News Digest, please send an email to: editor@foresight.org.

If you would like to browse past issues of the News Digest.

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